September 22, 2006

"Returning Wounded"

oil on canvas, 56" x 44"

When I embarked on the painting that would become Returning Wounded, I did so with no life experience of painting in the manner of a Northern European Renaissance master. I had no idea how or if I could do it. I figured though - if I never quit, I’ll never fail.

The common painting aphorism goes “paint what you see,” which - if it delivers the exclamation: “I didn’t see that coming” - seems to me like a good enough directive.

It turns out that my salvation, in this instance, would reside in technology - but not its application - just an observation: Click the magnifying glass icon from the photoshop tool bar and even the highest resolution image is revealed as consisting of discrete colors in prescribed areas - pixels in a grid. While painting, I often reoriented myself with this assuring reminder.

When complexity (or history) threaten to overwhelm, there can be utility in viewing painting reductively and simply putting the right color in the right place. That the protracted experience of clicking a mouse and staring at a computer monitor should facilitate old master painting techniques was one outcome I didn’t see coming.

While working on this canvas, my painting rhythm yielded a long walk home during hours when “The City That Never Sleeps” is at its most drowsy and my stride rode the wake of sanitation crews.

Freshly installed white plastic bags would be prepared, up and down each avenue, cinched atop the garbage baskets. Howling winds through the urban canyons occasionally treated me to hilarious inversions of these bags - setting them waving wildly above their rims, effectively reversing the order of interior versus exterior. I’d wonder just what am I looking at?

After months inside the process of creating Returning Wounded, my position has inverted to its dispassionate exterior. With the weathered directive “paint what you see” arriving at its corollary: “see what you paint,” now you and I meet in league, as viewers.


Process Video

This Returning Wounded process video is also viewable on the Tinsquo YouTube channel.
Posted by Mark Roth at September 22, 2006 11:14 AM

“Returning Wounded” painting by Mark Roth

Wow! I’ve never seen anything like it. The obvious diligence of intention. The vividness. The subtle delicacy and the disturbing flatness interposing antiquity and supposed dimension. The silvery over-lay of the grotesque figure overwhelming the infant and motherly-beauty and then dropping back. The almost-flat figures disturbingly present through the windows.
Biblical appeal. Loving virtual-divinity and current excessive complexity. Or is it perfect complexity?

I dig it! I want to keep exploring it. I click in to see the larger details. I marvel at the refinement and diversity. I feel allured and humbled. Unwilling to make the first comments and unbelieving the opportunity is still mine to be the first to make comment. I feel grateful. I will visit again and again. I await the DV rendition. I hope to see the original painting before it is gobbled up for a worthy fortune. Bravo!

Posted by: Denis Kelly Jr. at September 26, 2006 04:13 AM